ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)—Isaiah Sykes came off the bench to score 22 points and finished with eight rebounds and eight assists to propel UCF to an 83-63 victory over Bethune-Cookman University on Sunday.
Calvin Newell added 18 points and Tristan Spurlock 16 for the Knights (2-1), who overcame a slow start to win decisively. The Knights trailed by six in the middle of the first half, rallied to go up 35-25 at halftime, then put the game away with an 18-5 run in the second half.
Ricky Johnson led Bethune-Cookman (1-2) with 15 points and five assists. Maurice Taylor also scored 15 points and Malik Jackson 12.
Jackson hit consecutive 3-pointers to help Bethune-Cookman get off to a 16-10 lead, but Sykes took over for the Knights and UCF quickly ran off 14 straight points to seize control. UCF led 35-25 at halftime, and though the Wildcats cut the deficit to seven with a 3-pointer by Mikel Trapp with 10:38 left to play, Bethune-Cookman never got closer.
UCF took its time getting its defense settled, allowing Bethune-Cookman to slip away to a 16-10 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Knights left Jackson uncovered on consecutive trips and the 6-6 shooting guard buried 3-pointers. B-CC big man Daquan Brown added a couple of putbacks and the Wildcats were thinking upset.
The thought didn’t last long.
Trailing 18-15, Sykes started UCF on a 14-0 run with a driving layup. Matt Williams followed with the first of his three 3-pointers and four minutes later, Wilson ended the run with another jumper from behind the 3-point line to make it 29-18 with 4:44 left in the half.
Along the way, UCF’s defense got a little closer to Wildcat shooters, limiting B-CC to 10 of 28 shooting (35.7 percent) for the half, including 3 of 12 from beyond the arc.
The Knights lost track of Taylor and Johnson at the start of the second half and that kept the game close. The two split 24 points in the first 12 minutes of the half, hitting 3-pointers, driving layups and eight free throws between them.
The Knights regrouped defensively, again, and ran off nine straight points to put the game away. Spurlock had a 3-pointer and Newell a steal and breakaway dunk as UCF asserted its size and quickness advantage against an out-manned Wildcat team.